Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
in the last film released while he was still alive, arrives in Naples to settle the affairs of his brother who died there some time before. He has put off his own impending marriage to come on this trip, which he thinks will be a matter of signing a few papers but turns out to be much more complicated when he finds out that his brother, who had lived in Italy for years after leaving his family, actually had an unofficial second wife with whom he perished in an accident, and that this union also produced a small child. Gable is directed across the water to the isle of Capri where the boy lives with his aunt ( ), barely attending school and wandering the streets at all hours and up to no good. Taking a liking to the kid, Gable decides to fill him with unapologetic American imperialist attitudes towards foreign countries (hamburgers are real food, not all this nourishing, nonsense Italian stuff!) and announces he will be taking him home, but first he must contend with the boy’s guardian. Loren, a nightclub singer who has ambitions of her own, vacillates in the confused script between keeping the boy home and giving him an opportunity across the pond, and in the process, and the part of the movie that is hardest to swallow, she and Gable fall in love. The cinematography and art direction are beautiful and Loren shines in her musical numbers, but the film’s dismal experience at the box office was likely the result of bad casting, poor chemistry between the leads and a very conflicted narrative: Gable spends the whole movie criticizing this old world about its backward ways (sleeping in? That’s for communists!) but then at the last minute gives in to the irresistible beauty of the place (and apparently its food, the star apparently took to the country’s cuisine and packed on a fair amount of weight during shooting).